December 16 marks the completion of the U.S. government’s yearlong $1 million upgrade of two nearshore intercept vessels of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) Coast Guard. The SAFE Boat Mid-Life Upgrade included a complete vessel overhaul, new engines, and a spare parts package to ensure continued operability. The upgrades extend the vessels’ performance for an additional six years and bring the Grenadian Coast Guard fleet to full strength.
The upgrade of the two Grenadian Coast Guard drug interceptor vessels was made possible through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative’s (CBSI) Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program of the U.S. State Department and U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM). Work was conducted by SAFE Boats International technicians, the CBSI Technical Assistance Field Team (TAFT) and Naval Sea System Command (NAVSEA). The project supports Grenada’s own defense and its contributions to regional security.
U.S. Embassy Grenada Principal Officer Karl Duckworth explained, “This vessel upgrade continues SOUTHCOM’s and the U.S. Embassy’s enduring promise of regional support and security cooperation with Grenada and the Eastern Caribbean. We stand with Grenada to strengthen national border security, protect its territorial waters, and counter narcotics smuggling and other forms of transnational crime.”
The first vessel’s overhaul process was completed in February, and it has been in active use as the backbone of Coast Guard operations for maritime security against illegal activity. Due to the global pandemic, the completion of the second vessel’s upgrade was delayed until recently. However, in November, technicians returned to Grenada to complete their work. Certification sea trials performed in early December completed the project, bringing the Grenadian Coast Guard fleet to full strength.
“The United States is a strong partner on interdiction efforts, and the SAFE boats have been invaluable,” said RGPF Deputy Commissioner Franklyn Redhead. “For example, in April the RGPF used one of the boats to arrest three individuals, two from St. Vincent and one from Grenada, and recovered approximately 379 pounds [170 kilograms] of marijuana, a boat, and cash worth almost $320,000.”
The United States originally provided the two SAFE boats to Grenada as part of a CBSI FMF grant in 2012. With work able to resume in the Eastern Caribbean, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines will also receive vessel upgrades in 2021. It is part of the U.S. Embassy’s U.S.-Caribbean Strategy, which focuses on cooperation in the areas of security, health, energy, education, economic prosperity, and diplomacy.